World Champion Matthew survives in Richmond!

Nick Matthew (ENG) survived a tough encounter to beat Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 14-12, 10-12, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5 in the 1st round of the North American Open (photo: Andrew Prezioso)

On the 2nd day of 1st round action of the North American Open in Richmond, reigning champion Nick Matthew (pic le) survived a 1st round scare before beating Colombian outsider Miguel Angel Rodriguez (pic ri) 14-12, 10-12, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5 in a 92-minute marathon.

The Englishman, who is bidding for a third consecutive NAO title, said: “Miguel is capable of giving all the top guys a scare and I was almost ready to get on the plane home at the end of the fourth game.”

The 31-year-old world No1 now faces Finland’s Olli Tuominen, who withstood a fierce fightback from America’s seven-time national champion Julian Illingworth (8-11, 11-7, 11-2, 15-13).

Ramy Ashour, runner-up to Matthew for the past two years, returned to action after an injury break and overwhelmed Australian Matthew Karwalski 11-8, 11-1, 11-8 in just 23 minutes. The Egyptian said: “I don’t want to talk about my injuries any more. That’s all I have talked about for the past few months and all I want to do is concentrate on playing squash. I am so happy to be back, and especially here in Richmond.”

His opponent, Karwalski, admitted: “That was just like going to squash school and being given a lesson. It didn’t matter what I did, Ramy had an answer for it.”

Ashour, the No4 seed this week, now meets another Australian Cameron Pilley, who won a colourful clash with Canadian Shawn Delierre. The match ended in controversial fashion as the qualifier from Montreal was punished with two conduct strokes for audible obscenities, the second coming on match ball.

The biggest casualty of the day came when Alister Walker of Botswana removed number 7 seed Laurens Jan Anjema of The Netherlands 7-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 12-10.

Australian Zac Alexander became the second qualifier to claim a place in the last 16 round when he upset Scotland’s Alan Clyne 11-6, 11-3, 11-8. The New York-based Queenslander will now fifth seed Karim Darwish, the experienced Egyptian who needed almost an hour to quash French qualifier Mathieu Castagnet 12-10, 11-6, 7-11, 11-5.

1st round (lower half of draw):
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Matthew Karwalski (AUS) 11-8, 11-1, 11-8 (23m)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [Q] Shawn Delierre (CAN) 11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8 (60m)
[Q] Zac Alexander (AUS) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-6, 11-3, 11-8 (40m)
[5] Karim Darwish (EGY) bt [Q] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 12-10, 11-6, 7-11, 11-5 (59m)
Alister Walker (BOT) bt [7] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 7-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 12-10 (70m)
Simon Rosner (GER) bt Chris Ryder (ENG) 5-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-9 (57m)
Olli Tuominen (FIN) bt Julian Illingworth (USA) 8-11, 11-7, 11-2, 15-13 (55m)
[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 14-12, 10-12, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5 (92m)

2nd round line-up:
[1] James Willstrop (ENG) v Thierry Lincou (FRA)
[6] Amr Shabana (EGY) v Adrian Grant (ENG)
[8] Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) v [Q] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Shahier Razik (CAN)
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
[5] Karim Darwish (EGY) v [Q] Zac Alexander (AUS)
Alister Walker (BOT) v Simon Rosner (GER)
[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) v Olli Tuominen (FIN)